The growing season is in full swing and there is plenty to do here at Lower Sharpham Farm! After what seemed like endless April downpours, the garden is bursting with life, the apple blossom is out, the bees have emerged and the birds are singing their hearts out. It is possibly the most heart-warming and joyful time of the year to be in the garden.
The United Response team have been busy sowing seeds for the past few weeks – from sweet peas to courgettes, sunflowers to beetroot – and the polytunnel is now full of seedlings at different stages of growth. Our next big job is preparing the beds for all of these seedlings to be planted out. And we’re already underway.
Weeding might not be everyone’s idea of a good time, but when the sun is out, you’re surrounded by friends, and with a view as good as ours is from the garden… can’t complain! It’s always worth it when you get to pop those little seedlings into the soil and watch them grow. We are really excited to develop our capacity to grow organic, nourishing food for our farm community – which includes staff, trainees and the United Response team. At a time of food insecurity, rising food prices, widespread disconnection with nature and social isolation, it feels more important than ever to re-root ourselves, take care of each other and the land.
Chris and Dave from United Response come up to the garden on Tuesdays. A couple of weeks ago we celebrated the beginning of spring by finding edible flowers and leaves around the garden and making a tea over the fire. Sometimes we forget the importance of slowing down, taking notice of what’s around us and enjoying a cup of tea together – I was really grateful for the chance to do this.
This year we’re aiming to really solidify the roles, opportunities and responsibilities of the United Response team in the garden. As the Earthship project moves forward, we will be co-creating a space where the United Response team and the trainees can prepare food and tea, sow seeds, and simply relax and enjoy the view. This year is all about making the spaces and responsibilities in the garden accessible and shared. Tending the garden and enjoying the abundance of cultivated and wild food brings us together as a community and empowers us to improve our physical and mental health.
Working together through the whole process – from preparing beds, sowing seeds, planting, tending, harvesting, cooking and eating – the garden is a place where we can exercise both independence and teamwork and find great satisfaction in working towards a common goal and seeing the fruits (literally!) of our labour.
Annie Emery – Ambios Garden Facilitator
Project supported by The National Lottery Community Fund